But I do know this: abuse of power is a completely expected result of government authority. That goes triple for Chicago, New Jersey and the federal government. It’s not our fault. As Samuel Johnson’s Imlac said in “Rasselas,” “No form of government has yet been discovered by which cruelty can be wholly prevented. Subordination supposes power on the one part, and subjection on the other, and if power be in the hands of men, it will sometimes be abused.”
You might be blessed enough to have an Internal Revenue Service targeting your political opponents during an election year or an official who utters the dastardly but poetic line, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” (That last line is why one could be forgiven for thinking “House of Cards” is more documentary than television drama.)
There’s not much we can do about this problem when thinking about it from the perspective of the politicians we choose. Depending on your team, Chris Christie and Barack Obama are some of our best. This is no accident. If politics were wine, New Jersey and Chicago would be our Bordeaux and Napa Valley. Politicians from these areas might be bullying and vindictive, sure. But highly effective at winning elections and wielding power against opponents. They know how to do it even under difficult circumstances. Apparently this is related to how we keep voting for them, even after we get to know them a bit.